Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to put the enemy combatants currently held in Guantamano on trial in New York City isn't only absurd, it's dangerous.
In yesterday's Senate hearing, Mr. Holder argued that our country cannot cower in fear or be afraid of a terrorist attack in New York or that our prisons can't hold these terrorists. Nice arguments but they miss the point entirely. I'm not cowering in fear and if our prisons can hold gang members, they can surely hold KSM and his mates.
A key point in the hearing occurred when Senator Lindsay Graham asked Mr. Holder how our government would handle a captured Osama Bin Laden. Would OBL be read his Miranda rights? If so, then those who will be standing trial in New York will surely escape conviction because the law is quite clear and well established on this issue. And if OBL will not be read his rights, why not... this is criminal, right? Remarkably, Mr. Holder could not answer the question.
Here's a link to that video: Web Link
Mr. Holder also talks about the success of prosecuting other terrorists, but he conveniently forgets that all of the cases he cites were considered criminal cases from the start. Those suspects were arrested by the police or FBI, not captured by the military. Their crimes were plotted and commited in the United States and the perpetrators were captured here, not in a foreign country like Pakistan. So consistent with law, these suspects were immediately given their rights and all of them "lawyered up." None of that is true for those who will now stand trial in New York City. This "oversight" will be highly problematic for any prosecutor.
Mr. Holder also says this is about sending a message to the Muslim world that the United States is a beacon of freedom and justice. Does Mr. Holder really think that jihadists will suddenly stop hating America because we are giving their brothers a fair trial - especially when President Obama just said that they will be convicted and sentenced to death? That's nonsense - their beliefs are deeply rooted and based on religion; few if any minds will be changed.
This decision is about converting a battlefield enemy combatant into an ordinary criminal. Here's the hard truth: in war, we kill our enemies because of WHO THEY ARE, not because of what they've done and we even do it preemptively. In war, we bomb their bases and training sites and kill soldiers who have never lifted a weapon. We even blow up their vehicles from a remote drone without reading the perpetrators their rights; we don't do that to fleeing criminals like bank robbers. That's the difference between war and crime.
Mr. Holder's decision to allow civil criminal trials for enemy combatants is a horrible decision that will have enormous ramifications for our country. I see no upside to Mr. Holder's decision.